#OPINION: Invest in artist IT training

By Harold Kapindu

Malawi needs a hefty investment in artist Information Technology (IT) training to be at par with the rest of the world. Government has failed in arts investment forcing artists to become ignorant in technology. As a matter of fact, artists should be computer literate at a tender age so that they shouldn’t struggle to cope up with internet services in this generation.

To begin with, Malawi has struggled to develop since gaining its independence in 1964 because of computer ignorance. Most Malawian public schools start offering computer studies at Secondary level. Worst still, they only teach basic programs such as Microsoft Word and Excel. Students learn how to use the internet at a very late age.

In the west, our friends become computer literate at a tender age and start music and video production while young. This helps quite a lot because as they are growing physically and mentally, production and computer skills also grow in them.

Everything is going online in this modern world. The coming in of social media platforms (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, WhatsApp) has forced corporations to change from traditional ways to online. Prominent news outlets such as BBC, CNN and Sky News among others are all making sure to make their social media presence known.

The coming in of local news and file sharing websites like Nyasatimes, Nyasashowbiz, Mvelani, nyimbozathu.com  and Malawi-Music.com has made it easier for people to have access to local music and  helped many Malawians in Diaspora in keeping up to date on what is happening on the ground.

Nowadays people prefer checking their news on Facebook and Twitter pages because it is cheaper and faster as compared to buying a Newspaper. Gone are the days when file sharing was done via CDs, it is now simple to upload and download. WhatsApp has become popular for file sharing and communication.

However, as ridiculous as it may sounds, it is quite embarrassing that some top artists and promoters don’t even know how to use social media platforms. When dealing with social media one is required to stay online frequently because this is a fast generation that requires interaction and instant responses, otherwise the youthful fans take you as old fashioned and boring.

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#OPINION Rap beef in Malawi

By Harold Kapindu

Rap being a competitive genre, beef is never inevitable. Beef may end an artists’ career while others capitalize on it to score points. Rappers create feuds over egos, betrayal, and love relationships or even over a name.

Lomwe vs. Tay Grin is probably the most highly publicized beef in Malawi. Lomwe claimed Tay Grin stole his song at the studio which he originally did with his former FM 101 Power colleague Mphatso Chikalipo. Lomwe went on to record a Tay Grin diss mixtape which had songs like “Rumours of War”, “u don’t want it” and “Death of Gule”. Tay Grin never did a straight reply but subliminal shots were heard in songs like “Beasting” featuring Tumi, Zubz and Naseela and “All the way” feat Sonye.

The battle of egos was probably Jolly Bro vs. Phyzix. This was the period when Blantyre’s Jolly Bro and Lilongwe’s Phyzix were both big. It was a question of who really ride or die for their city. Both artists released songs throwing jabs at each other. Many believed this beef could have gone bloody because both artists had street credibility.

Soon after a 2014 successful Genii, D1 and Third Eye collabo on “The moment”, Genni Black released ‘Dats dat heat” which had some lines that did not impress Third Eye. In the song, Genii raps, “with all respect, am never D1 or Third, if I’m the One I can’t be second to Third”. Third Eye went on to rant on social media and recorded his response “Genii Wack”. Genii Black challenged Third Eye to a rap battle but Third Eye demanded K1 million upfront saying he doesn’t battle for free.

Around 2005 and 2006, NIC was hired by FM 101 Power as a Sprite Hip Hop show and Hip Hop Drill host. Real Elements accused NIC for being selfish. Real Elements claimed NIC was only playing his and his friend’s music. They faced each other in a battle which was live on Power 101 radio.

The Basement’s Cyclone and Pittie Boys’ Cyclone had a feud over rap name. No specific songs were released but subliminal shots were fired in either group or solo projects. The feud died when both rappers went silent.

Rap is bloody. If you are a rapper prepare for war.

 

 

 

 

 

#OPINION Remembering Vic Marley

By Harold Kapindu

I am not one of those people who shower praises on the dead; I give credit where it is due and timely. Barely eleven years after the demise of Malawi’s reggae dancehall superstar and urban music pioneer Vic Marley, the country seem to slowly forget the icon, a development which is quite unfortunate.

As a kid, growing up in Chitawira, Blantyre I remember occasionally meeting Vic Marley when he was recording at MC Studio in Nkolokosa. That time, I was in a rap group “Maximum Sentence” and we could discuss music every time we met as that was our common ground. To those who knew Vic Marley am sure they can agree that he was a down to earth person despite his popularity.

Born Victor Kunje, the “Hii Hoo” star died on 24 May, 2005 in a tragic accident along Lunzu road. His only album “Mau Anga” had hits such as “Adaferanji”, “Malilime” and “Chidikhodikho feat Annie Matumbi” while “Traffic Police feat Blackamoore” was released as a single.

If you follow local music, artists out there are jacking Vic Marley’s style, especially dancehall artists but they don’t do anything to show they still remember the icon known for his twisting style and unique concepts. His Memorial Day has just passed but nothing has happened to celebrate his life.

In 2013, Vic Marley was honoured with a Life Time Achiever Award at Urban Music Party (UMP) Festival which took place at Blantyre Cultural Center (formerly French Cultural Center) in Blantyre, thanks to Nd’efeyo Entertainment. This is probably the only posthumous accolade the artist has received so far.

Malawi is known for easily forgetting her fallen heroes. It is therefore my appeal to all industry players including the media, artists and the Kunje family to act in unison in remembering the fallen reggae dancehall legend. Remember, apart from Vic Marley, the Kunje family has also given us talented artists namely Star Marley and Reptiler.

At this juncture, allow me to send my deepest condolences to the Nyanga family for the passing of Malawi’s prominent comedian John Nyanga trading under the moniker “Izeki” of the duo Izeki ndi Jakobo. May the souls of Vic Marley and Izeki continue resting in peace.

 

Gender imbalance in Malawi music

By Harold Kapindu

One question that bothers me is, why do we have few female artists in Malawi especially those doing secular music yet they dominate in every nation music competition? Folks, this is a serious issue and something is definitely wrong with our music industry.

Some time ago, via his facebook page producer/radio personality Dizzo quizzed if Malawi has a female music producer. This thought never crossed my mind but when the question was posed I really thought it was important. From the comments, it was quite clear that Malawi indeed has no Missy Elliot. Then I started pondering as to why this is the situation despite the whole debate on gender equality, 50/50 representation and all that. So many questions came in the picture.

Is it something to do with our culture? If so then why are they dominating in music competitions? Or is it because of the public perception that secular female artists are associated with immoral behaviour? If this is the reason then we are still a primitive nation.  Maybe is because the local music industry is not lucrative? Well, fair enough.

Perhaps it has something to do with how our music industry is set up where one has to struggle to make it because there are no record companies. But if they can’t face the struggle and compete with male counterparts then how come they are fighting for equality?

Its high time female artists stopped being used on features or as backing vocalists in live performances. If you really want equality then take the steering wheel and prove that you can do whatever men can do. And gone are the days when females were being used as sex symbols in music videos to attract viewership, have some dignity and be proud of your body.

We need strong women who can challenge men and stand up for themselves. Strong women like the ones we have in Gospel music the likes of Ethel Kamwendo Banda, Thoko Suya, Favoured Martha among others. Most importantly, Malawians need to change their mindset on how they see secular female artists. This is 2016; we need to move with time.

#OPINION: Opening acts for international artists

By Harold Kapindu

Whether it is ignorance or greed but the criterion which is used to select opening acts or curtain raisers for international artists is quite questionable. Am saying it might be ignorance because it seems some folks can’t differentiate genres and am saying it might be greed because some event managers are also artists and they would capitalize on every opportunity that arises.

In this regard, I have a few points I want to make. Firstly, I believe every music artiste does a genre according to their taste and target audience. Regardless of how popular or well connected someone is, they do not deserve to open for an international act that does a genre that is completely different altogether. Although, it is Ok to give the audience a variety, it is also important to respect the audience’s musical taste otherwise you end up losing fans from both sides because they don’t want to associate with each other.

For example, in spite of all the exposure and global recognition, Wambali Mkandawire cannot open for Cassper Nyovest. Wambali’s audience is matured while Cassper has a youthful following which is not quite mature. A youthful audience does silly things at shows which a matured person cannot be happy to be associated with.

Secondly, both event managers and audience should know the difference between a festival and a concert. Usually, concerts attract artistes doing closely related genres while festivals attract artistes doing different genres. Recently, there was a debate on how Jamaican reggae dancehall artiste Busy Signal managed to share the stage with gospel songstress Ethel Kamwendo Banda at last year’s Sand Music Festival. The argument was that some quarters find Busy Signal’s lyrics to be vulgar. I found this debate to be irrelevant.

If you were going there you should have known better that it was a festival, at festivals one should expect the unexpected. It wasn’t a Gospel extravaganza.

Finally, I hear Jamaica’s Grammy winning reggae outfit Morgan Heritage is in town, I hope to see local opening acts selected on merit and I hope this time it won’t be another reggae disco with a DJ playing CDs. And I hope those organizing the Mi Casa show have also taken some notes.

 

 

 

 

How much per download?

By Harold Kapindu

Weeks ago, I was privileged to co-host “Friday Lounge” show on Timveni radio with my good friend, singer/producer/radio presenter Dizzo and Matilda. Luckily, the topic of discussion was “How much are people willing to pay for a download?”I, being an online showbiz reporter and a social media expert, I was humbled and it was an honour to be on the show.

Many arguments were raised; suggestions and opinions were made as well as so many questions were left unanswered. One of the outstanding questions was how the download payments are going to be made considering the fact that only a few Malawians have Credit/Debit cards or VISA cards. However, a suggestion that websites should partner with mobile phone service providers was made.

Consequently, a few days after our discussion, Malawi-music.com, the country’s leading music file sharing website announced that in few weeks, artists with premium content would be contacted with instructions on how to acquire a username and password for the new site.

 

According to the website’s statements posted on online social media platforms, customers would be buying music direct from artists via a new section of the site that offers deals on brand new tracks.

The development is welcome but the pricing is questionable because according to the statement, each song would have a different price set by an artist. This is unfair. My argument is, established artists would be making more money than upcoming ones. For instance, remember how popular Black Nina’s “Chilawe changachi” was? Am sure, if it was on sale it wouldn’t make as much money as Piksy or Gwamba. I would love if Copyright Society of Malawi (COSOMA) would quickly formulate a cyber sale policy and regulate the online sales.

On how much an individual are willing to pay, one fan clearly stated that she would pay nothing because she can manage to get any song for free. Producer Rebel Musiq said K750 would be fair considering how much is invested in a song production. K750 is almost equivalent to international price $0.99. However, Rebel Musiq was quick to point out that K100 would be realistic considering the economic hardships that Malawians are going through.

OPINION: Music should be timeless

By Harold Kapindu

Every artist needs inspiration to create a masterpiece. Inspiration resonates in different ways to respective artists. Some are inspired by smocking weed, bible meditation, conversations, reflection on real life events or even other artists’ work.

Among others, it is believed that artists like Bob Marley and Snoop Dogg have written classics from weed inspiration. American Rapper Grandmaster Caz switches off all electronic devices stays away from other people and locks himself in a room when he is inspired to write. On the contrary, South African artist HHP go to the studio and gets inspired to write in front of people upon hearing a good beat.

Whatever the case, a good song should challenge a listener’s way of thinking or spark something that a listener can relate to. Bob Marley’s “Redemption song”, 2Pac’s “Brenda got a baby”, Lucius Banda’s “Mabala”, Joseph Nkasa’s “Mphwayi ndi tsoka”, Third Eye’s “Deep” are products of creative writing.

The problem with this generation’s artists is that they focus much on making short term hits forgetting that good music is timeless. With the pressure to release a hit song that surpasses the success of the previous one, artists end up producing songs that sound similar as was the case with Martse’s “Mwano” and “Ndi ine” situation.

Unlike in Hip Hop where rappers take credit for writing own songs, artists from other genres have an upper hand because they can outsource songwriters. It is also important for artists to research, redefine their sound and rebrand themselves as is the case with Lucius Banda. Lucius Banda came out in the early 90s and he is still sounding relevant whereas his peers have either retired or can’t fit in this era.

Bob Marley, Peter Tosh produced their music in the 70s but it still sounds modern to this date. Others have argued that the dwindling standards of music are as a result of computerized sounds. Much as this may be true, I still believe lack of seriousness and creativity is song writing is the dominant factor.

If you are an artist, here is my question to you; are people going to listen to your music in 30 years to come?